Drinking Water in Urban Areas

As cities continue to grow, demand for clean water will grow with them. Without new sources, supply won’t be able to keep up.

In developing countries around the world, the lack of a secure, sustainable, and dependable fresh water source either is or is rapidly becoming the primary limiting factor to economic growth.

When considering the required factors for any given nation to make the leap from 3rd world status to developed status, the importance of water cannot be overstated.

In today’s global setting, water infrastructure is arguably the single most critical factor in a nation’s path to development.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 2 billion people around the world live without access to adequate clean water—a number that is expected to more than double by 2025. The economic impact of waterborne disease is estimated to be in excess of $100 billion annually. To make matters worse, this already colossal problem is being exacerbated by two important trends:

  • 1. As the world’s population continues to grow at an accelerated rate from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion in 2011 and projected to reach 9 billion by 2035, demand for fresh water is quickly outstripping available resources, particularly in parts of the world where population growth is high and naturally occurring fresh water is scarce.
  • 2. In quickly developing countries like India and China where there is a swift and unprecedented shift from poverty to middle class, the per-capita water demand is growing at an enormous rate.

The population of India’s middle class alone is larger than the entire US population and is growing rapidly. In large cities such as Mumbai, India; Dubai, UAE; and Beijing, China, tens of millions of people live and work in high rise buildings. Although these cities typically have municipal tap water, it is rarely considered safe for consumption.

During extensive visits to these potential markets, we learned that, in the majority of these settings, 5 gallon water dispensers are the primary source for drinking water. Typically, the jugs are refilled at local convenience stores which offer filtered water at a cost of approximately $0.20 per gallon. Unfortunately, the process is inconvenient, requiring the transport of 40 lb. jugs on a regular basis, and the quality of the filtered water varies greatly and is rarely policed.

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Through a regional distribution network Epiphany will sell roof-top mounted units to be placed on the high rise office and apartment complexes. The roof top unit will purify the available tap water and feed it to a designated “clean water” pipe within the building.

In retrofit applications, a single spigot per floor will provide refills for the existing 5 gallon jugs; in new construction applications, a “clean water” tap can be added to the kitchen sink in each apartment. The target customer in these markets will be building developers, building owners, or vending companies who would service and maintain several units in a given city.

Epiphany has already begun the process of forming distribution partnerships with highly connected companies in Pune, India and Dubai, UAE. These companies are prepared to begin sales efforts in their regions upon delivery of demonstration units from Epiphany.

This limited initial approach will provide Epiphany with an opportunity to fine tune the distribution model before replicating these efforts in additional target regions.